Making a business case for video analytics

Before investing in video analytics solutions like iCetana, the first question is how the spend can be justified. Usually someone tries to calculate the ROI of the investment. This posting shows why this is the wrong approach, and how the most senior executives invest in technology and drive value from it.

In a factory with repeatable processes, it is fairly easy to measure benefits and ROI. Benefits are tangible and regularly achieved. But most video surveillance is installed to reduce the impact from abnormal events. These events are not regular, and the benefits are not easy to measure.

The goal of video surveillance is to reduce adverse outcomes by increasing visibility of the environment. Ideally, increased visibility means being able to deploy security resources in trouble-spots, respond quickly and put in preventative measures to stop problems from recurring. These benefits are real, but difficult to measure. For example, when street gangs fight in a shopping mall, there isn’t an immediate tangible impact (unless they break something). However, over time, shoppers don’t feel comfortable in the mall, and end up shopping in a different mall with higher perceived safety. This reduces foot traffic. In the long term, tenants end up going elsewhere, depressing rents and reducing the property value. This is a complex causal relationship.

Although this may seem obvious in hindsight, at investment time it may be impossible to anticipate how rents will change in the future in a complex business market with a lot of factors at play. Irregular events without an immediate or measurable cost can still result in a long-term financial impact. This future impact cannot be accurately measured before the investment is made. If a senior manager requires an accurate ROI figure prior to making an investment in video analytics, it may be impossible to justify ever buying a video analytics solution such as iCetana. In this example, the shopping centre would just suffer long term tenant losses.

The discussion around ROI for video analytics often ends up being based on productivity savings. This is because labour costs are tangible and quantifiable, even if achievement of savings is questionable. This is a very weak argument for video analytics. Firstly, security operators are some of the lowest paid people in any organisation. Secondly, it ignores the big picture.

Leading organisations are leaders because they will invest in technology that gives them an edge. This involves looking ahead and understanding how an investment today can potentially play out in the future. They invest in the power of video analytics because of the potential to transform a business and manage and protect reputation. Small and uncertain savings on security labour costs are not the investment criteria that these organisations use.

Video analytics is a transformational technology. This means that it can change the way that an organisation works by providing situational awareness, which allows the organisation to constantly adapt and refine their processes. This awareness helps to manage and protect reputation. Leading organisations put a lot of effort into managing reputation, so value technology that reduces risk in this area.

The difference between a seasoned senior manager and a junior manager is the ability to make decisions when not all the facts can be quantified upfront. The experienced manager makes effective choices where there is ambiguity. They understand that there are complex causal relationships that can make it difficult to conclusively link cause and result.

Nevertheless, these leaders, and leading organisations “get” the opportunity from video analytics. They know the long-term importance of reputation. Also, they understand the factors that either enhance a reputation for excellence, or irreparably damage it. They understand that transformation helps to position the business for long term growth.

When making an investment decision, the seasoned executive looks for the long-term benefits rather than trying to measure true ROI. They invest based on the opportunity rather than short term cost savings. Video analytics becomes a tool that supports organisational change, and they make changes based on the information coming back from the solution.

An experienced manager also knows that partnerships and networks are part of the process of gathering information. They recognise that they may need some professional help to understand best practice and how to invest. To understand how your organisation can benefit from video analytics solutions, such as iCetana, you need a trusted partner like Chubb Fire & Security. Chubb Fire & Security is a leading provider of electronic security solutions. iCetana is now actively looking for similar trusted partners to assist with the roll out of iCetana software across the UK and Europe.


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